Saturday, March 1st, 2014
3 years, 3 months.
Spoiler Alert: Contains some minor revelations of how Breaking Bad ends.
This was a special week in the world of Netflix as people who are too cheap to pay for cable or satellite (or iTunes) were able to see the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad.
I managed to watch them all over 3 nights; Wednesday night I only slept 4 hours in anticipation of seeing what happened, in the end, to Walter White, the terminally ill high school science teacher turned meth dealer who wanted to provide a living for his family after he was gone.
One of the reasons this show is so captivating is that it capitalizes on the thin line between good and evil, as well as the gradual breakdown of a “good man’s” morals, under the guise of “doing something wrong but for the right reasons.”
It’s fascinating, as a spectator of the demise, to find myself rooting for the anti-hero up until nearly the final episode; despite the fact he literally destroyed (and ended) more lives than I would care to count.
The fact that I was privately hoping he didn’t get caught reveals something about my own damaged sense of morality. It shows me that even in the smallest, unidentifiable ways, I can be wrong and be convinced I’m right.
Ultimately, Breaking Bad is a story about a man who gains the whole world, yet loses his soul.
When I say that he loses his soul, what I mean is that what mattered to him more than anything (at least, at first) was his family, and he lost them:
In the end, Walter White’s teenage son outright hates him; even changing his name to Flynn, from Walt Jr.; a subtle way to detach himself from his father, as he watches his father become preoccupied with his work, compensating with gifts, but not regular quality time.
Walter White’s marriage remains in tact only in a legal and business sense. And his infant daughter will grow up knowing her father only as a murderous drug dealer.
That’s just the damage he did to his immediate family…
However, he did manage to (illegally and off the radar) leave his family (via his son) millions of dollars ($9.72 million, to be exact) to live off for the rest of their lives.
One question that the final episode proposed to me was, what kid would choose millions of “dirty” dollars from a father they despised… over having a father who truly cared about them and loved them with all his heart, though he didn’t leave them much money behind?
To me, it’s a no-brainer.
There’s a good chance I’ll never be able to leave you with millions of dollars, but I can love you with all my heart. I know that’s what you’d rather have anyway.
Image: Courtesy of AMC/Breaking Bad.
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Thursday, January 5th, 2012
For the past couple of years now, I have consistently published my own recaps of The Bachelor, drawing in tens of thousands of views on my personal blog site, NickShell.com.
It made me laugh that I could make 300 people a day stumble upon my site when they Googled “Is Ali Fedotowsky Jewish?” Not only blogging about the show, but watching it every Monday night with my wife, had become a fun tradition.
This week, the new Bachelor season premiered featuring Ben Flajnik, the Slovak-Italian-German-English (but not Jewish) winemaker from California.
But the magic just wasn’t there for me anymore. Unlike previous seasons, it felt like the main focus was just on how ridiculous (and pathetic) the contestants could appear to be. It was like the show had merged with its sleazy cousin, Bachelor Pad, and all those trashy reality dating shows on VH1.
I guess I’m becoming more morally convicted about contributing to the exploitation of other people; even if they don’t realize or don’t care that the world is laughing at them, not with them.
A switch has flipped in my head. Is it because The Bachelor has (just now?) finally jumped the shark?
Not actually. My sudden disgust in The Bachelor got me thinking deeper. I realized that the underlying issue here is that I’m starved for redeeming value, not only in entertainment, but in real life.
I started thinking about the TV shows my wife and I have plowed through this past year on Netlflix. (We don’t have cable. We watched this week’s Bachelor episode online.)
They included Big Love, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. In my opinion, all three are very well-written, well-directed, fresh, original, and premium quality entertainment. But just yesterday I realized something they all three have in common:
The protagonist cheats on his wife, she cheats on him, or they cheat on each other.
It made me start thinking about all the good songs we love to sing along to which are about someone getting cheated on. Yeah, good songs like “White Liar” by Miranda Lambert or “You Lie” by The Band Perry. In every genre of music, it’s common for enjoyable songs to be about infidelity.
I may sound like a Republican grandma from the Eighties, but I’m really tired of all this negativity in pop culture; especially when it comes to the way marriage is portrayed.
The truth is, I’m struggling right now to think of a good modern TV series that features a happily married couple who aren’t constantly (even though comically) cutting each other down. I miss Jason and Maggie Seaver from Growing Pains.
Here on The Dadabase, I have written several times about how dads are negatively portrayed on TV. But I failed to focus also on how negatively marriage is portrayed, as well. That’s just as big of a deal.
I miss the cheesy “musical moral moments” at the end of Miller-Boyett sitcoms like Full House, Family Matters, Step By Step, and Perfect Strangers where I was always fed a bite-size life lesson, teaching me to care more about others than myself.
Starting now, I am going to be deliberately seeking out entertainment (and real-life ventures) that have a high redeeming quality.
As part of her Christmas present to me, my wife agreed to watch the first season of Lost with me. She’s never seen it, but I’ve seen every episode.
Lost is the kind of thing I mean when I say “redeeming quality.” I love to see the moral struggles of the characters as they try to forgive others and themselves for the wrongs they have committed in their lives. I love that they ultimately become accountable for their actions.
I love to see a story actually go somewhere. I love to see people redeemed, not exploited.
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Big Love, Breaking Bad, Full House, Jewish, LOST, Mad Men, redeeming value, sitcoms, The Bachelor | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Nostalgia, The Dadabase